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Author Topic: Marine is honoured for Everest rescue  (Read 9344 times)

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Marine is honoured for Everest rescue
« on: Sep 11 2003, 20:51 »

09:00 - 29 August 2003
from the Westernmonringnews website
-  
A Westcountry Royal Marine has been awarded one of the world's highest civilian bravery honours by Royal approval for his courage in a life-and-death drama on the North Ridge of Mount Everest in May this year.
Royal Marine Darren Swift, 30, of Springfield Road, Elburton, Plymouth, is to receive a Royal Humane Society Silver medal which has been personally approved by the society's president, Princess Alexandra, for his role in the perilous rescue of a climber suffering from frostbite and snow blindness.

At many times during the rescue Mr Swift, and the man he rescued - Australian climber Peter Madew - were in danger of falling down sheer precipices. One false step could have resulted in them plummeting to certain death.

Despite this, the Humane Society citation says Mr Swift did not hesitate to risk his own life on the side of one of the world's most treacherous mountains to get Madew, who could walk, but could not see or use his hands, down to safety.

In addition to the award, Humane Society secretary, Major General Christopher Tyler, added his own tribute to Mr Swift.

Speaking at the society's headquarters in London yesterday he said: "Obviously we get fairly used to seeing tales of bravery where people have gone beyond anything that could reasonably be expected of them. But I have to say that I have seldom, if ever, seen anything to compare to this. What Marine Swift did was truly remarkable.

"It was a rescue that went on for hours during which he could at any time have fallen to an instant death. Frankly, no words of praise are sufficient. This is one of the single bravest actions I have ever encountered in my time as secretary of the society. If ever anyone deserved one of our silver medals Marine Swift does."

The horror incident leading to the award happened on 22 May this year. Swift was a member of a Royal Navy Everest North Ridge expedition which was preparing for an attempt on the summit.

The Humane Society citation says that the expedition was aware that a British climber had broken his leg high on the North East Ridge the previous day, but with the help of colleagues had managed to descend to a lower camp.

Mr Madew was one of the colleagues who had helped the injured man, but when the Royal Navy expedition reached them the citation says he had serious frostbite and snow blindness and was in a poor state.

When other members of the expedition managed to get him to the expedition's camp it was decided that Swift would evacuate Madew on his own, leaving the others free to help get the injured man down from the mountain. Because Mr Madew could not see, Mr Swift fixed a short length of climbing rope between the two of them and then started to descent over steep broken rocks, sometimes physically placing Mr Madew's feet on safe footholds.

During this part of the descent a 20 knot wind was blowing and the temperature was about -30C.

The citation continues: "The steep broken ground of the North Ridge is unpleasant to descent at the best of times. Under the conditions which Swift found himself it was extremely dangerous. Despite there being some sections of fixed rope, the rope was not reliable and a slip by Madew could have resulted in the two climbers plummeting down the North Face to the Rongbuk Glacier some 2,000 metres below."

It says Madew did in fact slip on a number of occasions but each time, Swift was able to arrest his fall using his ice axe and crampons.

After about two-and-a-half hours they reached a rendezvous point, both exhausted and in need of rehydration.

Swift was offered assistance to continue the descent, but because all available men were needed to get the climber with the broken leg off the mountain he refused help and continued alone with Mr Madew.

Connected to Mr Madew he then managed to abseil down treacherous ice slopes using ropes and snow anchors. In all the descent took seven hours.

In recommending that Swift should receive the award, expedition leader, Lt Col N Arding says: "Marine Swift's actions undoubtedly saved Mr Madew's life and showed outstanding bravery in the face of such demanding and dangerous circumstances."

No date has yet been fixed for presentation of the award but it is expected to take place in the near future.

The Royal Humane Society was originally formed by a group of London doctors in 1774 and is the leading UK organisation responsible for honouring lifesavers and those who have been involved in heroic rescue incidents.


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"He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

Ron

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Re:Marine is honoured for Everest rescue
« Reply #1 on: Sep 16 2003, 01:19 »

Nice men those soldiers ;D
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Paul Mewse

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Re:Marine is honoured for Everest rescue
« Reply #2 on: Nov 15 2003, 21:25 »

A truely brave and courageous act of humanity ::)
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trunl

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Re:Marine is honoured for Everest rescue
« Reply #3 on: Nov 23 2003, 09:58 »

it is at times like these when you look at your feet on the ground and smile.
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